After a strong start and some brilliantly inventive, genuinely interesting episodes – arguably peaking with the reality-warping love story What If…Doctor Strange Lose His Head Instead of His Hands?. The first half of the series gave viewers entertaining and interesting twists on familiar MCU events, but the last few weeks have felt a bit meandering and dull by comparison, with both the Killmonger-centric episode and last week’s ‘Party Thor’ story only showing sparks of intrigue just as they ended.
And that final, brief sequence from last week’s episode has now become much bigger, with the Infinity Stone-powered, Ultron/Vision hybrid given his own episode. In this reality, the body Ultron was creating for himself was never repurposed by the Avengers; instead, the mind stone-powered body became a vessel for a much more powerful, unstoppable Ultron. Now, only Natasha Romanoff and Clint remain to stop Ultron and his mission to bring complete and utter annihilation – in the twisted AI’s mind, the only way to ensure true ‘peace’ – to the universe.
Though a minor spoiler, the fact that Tony Stark/Iron Man dies onscreen this week is basically a joke at this point – it’s no longer a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’ with Tony; he’s become the Kenny of What If…?. You almost expect Uatu to exclaim “Oh my god, you killed Tony! You bastards!” at the current episode’s big bad.
It’s a great episode though, with some fantastic action sequences, truly multiverse-breaking events and the surprise return of at least one character from previous episodes here (and one shockingly sudden character death that’s hilariously dealt with). There’s one extended fight sequence which uses some very Jack Kirby-esque stylistic flourishes in the animation, giving the scenes an incredible sense of a classic comic book throwdown in motion, with superb sound effects to boot. It’s very well done and hews closer to the comic book Age of Ultron than the movie – which took its name but little of its content.
Jeffrey Wright continues to impress as Uatu, with his role beefed up here somewhat too. There really is a very intriguing setup for the final episode this week – next week’s season finale has been gently signposted here and there, with my guess being a potential coming together of characters from prior episodes, who are likely to attempt to stop a threat that cannot be contained within a single reality – so let’s hope we end on a high. With just a week to go until the end of the series, there’s certainly not long to wait until the final What If…? question is answered.
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